JERRY STEINHILBER TRIO WITH GEORGE GARZONE
Chicago drummer Jerry Steinhilber plays busy: in less talented hands, his aggressive accents, crisp stick work, and vibrant colors (especially on cymbals) might sound intrusive. But even as a bandleader, Steinhilber knows how to walk the thin line between "active" and "overbearing." His choice of bandmates helps keep him on the right side of it--a good drummer can scale down his energy level to avoid trampling on calmer associates, but the better solution is to find more simpatico partners. On Chicago Trio, New York Tenor, released this month on the Italian label Soul Note, his trio features two fellow fellow Chicagoans--Larry Kohut on bass, a steadying influence even during his sudden shifts to double time, and cornucopian pianist Jim Trompeter--and collectively it has the flexibility and tensile strength of metal mesh. Kohut and Trompeter can invite Steinhilber's most provocative accompaniment, because it won't knock them off course. The addition of saxophonist George Garzone, the New York tenor of the title, makes for a pungent quartet and a particularly flavorful recording. Garzone attended Boston's Berklee College of Music at around the same time as fellow saxist Joe Lovano, and after graduating they both played in Woody Herman's band--circumstances that may account for some of the similarities in their styles (although I couldn't say who influenced whom). Like Lovano, Garzone summons up a woody tone, free of the metallic tinge you hear from so many tenors, and plays with great rhythmic invention and intrepid leaps of melodic logic. He and Steinhilber have forged a solid long-distance musical relationship over the past decade or so, and it shows in the drummer's support of his juggernaut solos. Garzone flies in for this weekend's CD-release party on the trio's home turf. Friday, May 18, 9 PM, and Saturday, May 19, 8 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway; 773-878-5552.